Yet another geek blog

1 May 2011

The City & The City by China Miéville

The city and the city have always known about each other because they both occupy the same time and space. They are non-separated along their non-border by something they know only as "The Breach", a mysterious force they both fear and fear to be without.

If Philip K Dick had ever written a mainstream novel, this is what it would be like.

This is not a failing. PDK might have come up with the concept of the superimposed cities, but what China Miéville has done is sustained it and developed it. As the novel progresses, we are shown that the most interesting thing is not the separation of the cities, but the mental state of the separated citizens.

If I or one of my friends were to have a moments failure of unseeing (and who did not do that? who failed to fail to see sometimes?) so long as it was not flaunted or indulged in, we should not be in danger.

To facilitate these every day actions of un-seeing and un-noticing, the citizens and the citizens dress in different colours, speak different languages and even walk and move differently. The mental habits then seep deeply into the citizens minds. We are shown the hippy Unificationists who believe that there is only one city. They see this with reason but are unable to see it with their eyes. Opposing them are the right wing Nationalists. They only want to see one thing but will never understand that this is only possible by having everything else to ignore.

This lays bare the whole concept of nationhood. The fact that it is both real and unreal, natural and artificial.

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posted by Yet Another Geek @ Sunday, May 01, 2011

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